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District claims ring hollow


Friday, June 20th, 2014
Issue 25, Volume 18.
Robert Eilek
Special to the Valley News
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Due to long-term budgetary crises, Temecula teachers have neither requested nor received salary increases for the past seven years and willingly accepted pay cuts by agreeing to multiple furlough days to help the Temecula Valley Unified School District remain financially solvent.

While pay was stagnant and reduced, teachers absorbed annually increasing health care costs, inflation, and now face additional increases in their contributions to retirement.

Against this backdrop, Temecula teachers strongly rejected the school districtís meager salary offer of a 4 percent (1 percent for 2013-2014 and 3 percent for 2014-2015) wage increase.

Citing restrictions and uncertainties with additional funding gained through Proposition 30, Measure Y, and the new state funding model called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), the district claims the money is simply not there to offer a more generous salary

package.

Sounds reasonable enough until one examines the districtís spending habits over the past several years. A visit to the TVUSD website under the heading Personnel Items (see July 16, 2013; December 10, 2013; January 21, 2014; March 18, 2014) reveals a steady and costly growth in administration with many new hires, promotions, and job reclassifications in which employees are awarded changes in job title with increases in

pay.

The district administration often justifies this administrative expansion under the guise of growth yet it was not too long ago that a large number of teachers were laid off due to both state budget shortfalls and declining

enrollment.

A review of the districtís Local Control Accountability Plan (LCAP) shows that significant LCAP funds will be spent either hiring or placing a large number of existing teachers on special assignment (TOSAs). There is speculation that TOSAs will be working with a very small number of students and will be excused from teaching a full schedule of classes leading some to question whether this is a prudent use of LCAP funds.

Several TOSAs will be assigned to the elementary level as Supplemental Support Specialists costing the district $361,336 to $398,373 annually. With that amount of money, the district could hire several full time elementary teachers to help shrink class sizes, a move that would truly benefit our youngest

students.

At the secondary level, several TOSAs will work as Math Specialists and English Language Arts Specialists. The yearly price tag for this component will range from $307,793 to $339,342 and $542,004 to $597,560 respectively. That sum of money could be better spent resurrecting after-school math and English tutorial programs or training existing math and English Language Arts teachers effective strategies to tackle the unique learning disabilities of our most at-risk

students.

Allowing those teachers to work with struggling students for an extra period during the instructional day will offer dividends in the form of reduced absenteeism and drop out rates.

Another $220,000 to $242,550 annually will be spent on Supplemental Programs Coordination. Instead of spending money on program coordinators, let us earmark that money for children. We could implement an after-school enrichment program allowing students to learn new skills and keep them in a safe environment while their parents are at work. Restoring summer school classes at ALL grade levels to assist this districtís struggling students is another

option.

In short, district claims that no money is available to offer teachers a fair pay increase ring hollow when one recognizes the millions of dollars wasted on expanding district administration and hiring TOSAs. If the district does not want to give teachers adequate compensation, then funnel the savings directly into student programs and services while reducing administrative growth and cutting the TOSA plan.


 

1 comments

Comment Profile ImageAnonymous
Comment #1 | Monday, Jun 23, 2014 at 4:37 pm
I think some TOSAS who were promoted have actually had complaints filed against them...

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Valley News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.

 

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